Dark Mat­ter

Make time run su­per-slow. Six ND fil­ters tested

NPhoto - - Front Page -

Fast shut­ter speeds are great for freez­ing mo­tion, but that’s not al­ways what you want when you’re tak­ing a pho­to­graph. Mount your cam­era on a tri­pod and set a long ex­po­sure, and you can add mo­tion blur to sub­jects like weirs and wa­ter­falls, for a much more dreamy look. Tripods also make it pos­si­ble to blur people and ve­hi­cles out of busy street scenes as they’re walk­ing around, for cleaner ar­chi­tec­tural shots. The only prob­lem is en­abling a long ex­po­sure in bright light, such as on a very sunny day, as over-ex­posed and even blown-out pho­tos are likely.

One so­lu­tion is to fit a high-den­sity neu­tral fil­ter to your lens, typ­i­cally one with a rat­ing of 10 stops. These dark fil­ters re­duce the amount of light pass­ing through the lens. If, for ex­am­ple, a sunny scene would re­quire a set­ting of f/11 at 1/125 sec for a cor­rect ex­po­sure, fit­ting a 10-stop ND fil­ter will en­able you to slow the shut­ter speed to eight full sec­onds at f/11. An­other op­tion, which is also par­tic­u­larly ad­van­ta­geous when shoot­ing video, is to use a vari­able or ‘fader’ ND fil­ter. Based on two po­lar­is­ing fil­ters, one of which is ro­tated against the other, these usu­ally give a range of be­tween two and eight stops.

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